Gateshead TMD

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Gateshead TMD
LocationGateshead, United Kingdom
Coordinates54°57′49″N 1°36′37″W / 54.9637°N 1.6104°W / 54.9637; -1.6104Coordinates: 54°57′49″N 1°36′37″W / 54.9637°N 1.6104°W / 54.9637; -1.6104
OS gridNZ249633
Owner(s)British Rail
Depot code(s)
  • 52A (1948-1973)
  • GD (1973-1991)[1]
Post-groupingBritish Railways

Gateshead TMD was a railway Traction Maintenance Depot situated in Gateshead, England. The depot was closed in 1991. The depot code was 52A during the steam era and GD later on. It was known along with the adjacent locomotive works as Greenesfield or Greensfield, after a Mr. Greene, from whom the North Eastern Railway (NER) bought the land.

Engine Shed[edit]

For most of its working life the main shed housed four Turntables. Prior to 1908, all four turntables had been 48' 5", which proved to be a problem as locomotives were steadily increasing in size, but in that year, the Redheugh Incline was closed, which allowed the track running alongside the southern wall of the shed to be lifted, and an extension built to accommodate three larger 60' 0" turntables. In the 1920s the arrival of large 4-6-2 "pacific" type locomotives (the Vincent Raven designed NER "2400" class which became "A2" under the LNER, and the Doncaster built Gresley "A1s" designed for the GNR) necessitated the conversion of the adjoining locomotive works' tender shop into a shed which could accommodate them, as even the 60' turntables in the main shed were not large enough. The problem of turning these locomotives without a large enough turntable was overcome by utilising the triangular junctions at the southern ends of the High Level and King Edward VII bridges, which allowed the locomotives to perform a three-point turn in much the same way as a road vehicle. The rebuilding of the shed in the 1950s would include the provision of a 70' turntable which these locomotives could use, but this would soon become obsolete with the phasing out of steam traction under the BR 1955 Modernisation Plan.



The shed was home to a number of express locomotives, being allocated no less than 35 pacifics in 1954, as well as the Newcastle Central station pilots, and an assortment of smaller locomotives for local passenger trains and goods workings, with a large number of goods engines also stabled a few miles away at Blaydon (52C) and at the nearby Borough Gardens shed (54C) which stood at the eastern end of a large marshalling yard adjacent to the Newcastle-Sunderland line up until its closure in 1959, by which time its shed code was 52J, having previously been a sub-shed of Sunderland (54A) along with Tyne Dock (formerly 54C, becoming 52H in 1958). From 1958 all BR locomotive depots on Tyneside, Wearside and in Northumberland became sub-sheds of Gateshead. Prior to its conversion into a more conventional loco (and when not undergoing tests and modifications), the experimental water-tube boilered "W1" 4-6-4 No. 10000 which became known as the "hush-hush" due to the secrecy surrounding its construction was also stabled at Gateshead. In BR days, the shed continued to house mainly ex-NER/LNER locomotives, the BR standard classes being for the most part conspicuous by their absence from north east lines (one exception being a modified batch of the massive "9Fs" which had been specially fitted with large Westinghouse air pumps; these locomotives were stabled at Tyne Dock shed and employed on the heavy iron ore trains to Consett Steelworks where the pumps were needed to operate the air powered doors on the large bogie ore hoppers). Gateshead also provided motive power for Dunston Staithes, to the West, which had restrictions in place regarding locomotives that could work on them, these being, in LNER and BR days, J71 and J72 0-6-0 tanks and a pair of Y3 sentinel geared locomotives affectionately known as "pups". The 0-6-0 tanks propelled loaded trains out of the Norwood Coal Yard onto top of the Staithes where the waiting pups shunted the wagons into position above the loading chutes, while the empties rolled back off the staithes under gravity and would be collected for their journey back to the colliery by an 0-8-0 from Blaydon or Borough Gardens. Bowes Bridge, which never had its own shed code, was also a sub-shed of Gateshead and was allocated a pair of N10 0-6-2 tanks for working the sections of the Tanfield Branch which were level enough not to necessitate rope haulage.


The last of Gateshead's steam allocation left in October 1965, with steam lingering on in a revenue-earning capacity in the north east at Sunderland MPD, a handful of industrial locations and NCB lines for a few years before being phased out altogether (although it never completely disappeared from the region, the Tanfield Railway having reopened as a preservation centre just as the last survivors of the NCB steam fleet were retired). After the departure of the steam locomotives, the main shed at Gateshead was converted to a five-road straight shed and used for the storage and maintenance of a variety of diesels, including a number of the powerful Class 55 "Deltics" which replaced the Gresley Pacifics on the east coast expresses. The conversion drastically altered the depot, with coaling stages and other infrastructure associated with the steam engines being removed, and fuel tanks etc. for the diesels springing up in their places. One exception was the water tower which stood at the western end of the shed, which would remain until closure. After closure, the depot stood for a number of years until the last remaining resident 08 618 (which had been loitering for eleven years in the shed since being withdrawn in February 1990), was sold for scrap to TJ Thomson of Stockton-on-Tees, and cut up on site in February 2001, just prior to the demolition of most of the buildings. New housing occupies the site, which is now known as Ochre Yards. The street names reflect the site's history, with Worsdell Drive and Fletcher Road named after former locomotive superintendents of the NER.

Gateshead Railway Works[edit]

Gateshead was, prior to 1910, the headquarters of the NER's locomotive department, being at the time home to the company's main works. These stood alongside the sheds, overlooking the River Tyne. Part of the works occupied the site of the original Gateshead Station, where trains from London terminated prior to the construction of the High Level Bridge and the opening of Newcastle Central Station. The train shed of this station subsequently became the works' No. 1 erecting shop (where the final assembly of the locomotives was carried out), and the hotel adjoining the station became home to offices. On the opposite side of the running lines, at the Eastern end of Chater's Bank sidings, a roundhouse built sometime between 1895 and 1898 served as the works' paint shop. By 1957, this was marked on the OS map as an engine shed, which suggests that locomotives from the soon to be closed Borough Gardens MPD had been transferred to Gateshead. The roundhouse is not present on OS maps from the 1960s onwards, but is visible in a video of BR freight workings in 1983[2] (also visible in this video is the Gateshead Breakdown Train, the new Redheugh Bridge and its soon to be dismantled predecessor, with the similarly doomed chimneys of Dunston Power Station in the background) After 1910, the production of new locomotives at Gateshead was discontinued, these being subsequently built at Darlington. The works continued to maintain and overhaul engines up until 1932, when the decision was made to close them. They were re-opened for the maintenance and overhaul of locomotives during the Second World War, receiving a new 60-ton crane, in order to ease the pressure on Darlington, and remained open until 1959, when they closed for the last time. In 1996, part of the former works was used as an exhibition space for Antony Gormley's "Field For The British Isles" consisting of 40,000 small terracotta figures. Most of the works was subsequently demolished in 2002 along with the adjacent engine sheds, although some of the buildings nearest the river have survived and have been converted into apartments.

Remaining railway activity[edit]

The only remaining railway activity on the site is the line which connects the junctions leading to the bridges, and the Tyneside IECC which controls train movements on the East Coast Main Line between north of Northallerton and south of Morpeth. The area to the south of Northallerton is covered by York IECC and to the north, Morpeth Power Signal Box takes over. The IECC stands at the west end of the site, near the lines leading to the King Edward VII bridge. Just to the north of the IECC, despite the line having been closed for over a hundred years, a girder bridge which formerly carried the Redheugh Branch still stands near the viaduct carrying the ECML and Newcastle-Carlisle line. Most other TMDs in the area have also closed, mainly due to the decrease in goods and mineral traffic in the latter half of the 20th century, with only Heaton TMD and South Gosforth car sheds (now used for the maintenance of the Tyne and Wear Metro rolling stock) still in operation, although the Tyne Yard at Lamesley retains some facilities for freight locomotives. Gateshead Railway Club opposite the former entrance to Gateshead Station (now Aligeez pizza shop), near the southern end of the High Level Bridge has survived, and The Central bar on the opposite side of the viaduct carrying the line to Sunderland has memorabilia relating to the area's railway history on the walls, including some Gateshead (52A) shed plates from a steam locomotive.

Sub-Sheds in BR steam days[edit]

Gateshead had several sub-sheds during the course of its existence, some of which had sub-sheds of their own. When Sunderland, which was formerly 54A became a sub-shed of Gateshead, it, along with its own sub-sheds, received new codes with Gateshead's 52 prefix.

52B Heaton - allocated similar types of locomotives as Gateshead for working the ECML. Heaton had (and still has) extensive carriage sidings. It would also encompass South Gosforth Car Sheds, where the Tyneside electric stock was stabled, including the NER Class ES1 shunting locomotives for the steeply graded Quayside Branch. Heaton and South Gosforth are the only surviving sheds which were sub-sheds of Gateshead, all of the others listed here are now closed.

52C Blaydon - which by 1955 also included Hexham and Alston.

52D Tweedmouth - the northernmost extent of Gateshead's control, which included the shed at Alnmouth.

52E Percy Main - allocated locomotives for use on the former Blyth & Tyne lines in South-East Northumberland.

52F North and South Blyth - allocated locomotives mainly for use on the heavy mineral traffic in the Northumberland coalfield, North Blyth was at Cambois, and was later replaced by an entirely new diesel depot (Blyth Cambois TMD). The new depot closed in 1994.

52G Sunderland (54A until 1958) - last MPD in the region with an allocation of steam locomotives, with the last examples leaving in 1967. Also included Durham, which did not have a BR shed code.

52H Tyne Dock (54B until 1958) - provided motive power for freight workings on South Tyneside, including the iron ore workings to Consett. Also encompassed Pelton Level MPD near Stanley.

52J Borough Gardens (54C until 1958) - later the site of Park Lane Goods Depot.

52K Consett (54D until 1958) - provided facilities for locomotives working the lines in and out of Consett, (only the former Stanhope & Tyne route remaining for traffic to and from the steelworks by 1980, when the plant finally closed) as well as being allocated snowploughs which were essential in winter due to the town's location being a high fell on the edge of the Pennines.


  1. ^ "The all-time guide to UK Shed and Depot Codes" (PDF). 5 May 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 December 2013. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  2. ^ Class 31, 37, 45, 46, 47 in the North East (Gateshead Depot GD) 1983 Peak Goyle, Youtube.

External links[edit]